As of today, the nation stands three days away from falling off the so-called "fiscal cliff". A quick history of how we got here: back in 2011, the President and Congress couldn't agree on a deal to raise the debt ceiling, cut spending and increase taxes on high-income taxpayers (remember the so-called "supercommittee" that was charged with basically redeveloping the American economy? That was a waste of time.) So all together, they all just agreed to disagree, until December 31, 2012, so that the whole thing wouldn't be politicized during the election.
So, guess what? The damn thing has become politicized. Negotiations in earnest on taxes and spending, in an effort to avoid the cliff, after the election. Things looked promising for awhile, but, as we know, they are now bogged down.
Today, the President and Congressional leaders are meeting today in an effort to avoid falling off the cliff. The Washington Post brings you a nice article about it here.
I can not believe that we sit on December 28th and this thing isn't resolved. When (and I think "when" is the key word now) we go off the cliff, the Bush-era tax cuts expire and the spending cuts kick in, and markets here and abroad go into the tank due to the mayhem in the American economy, maybe that will get a deal done. But at what cost?
For the American taxpayer, at least some pay received during 2013 is going to get taxed at a higher rate. I am sure that the payroll industry can make adjustments so that workers are taxed a little less during the rest of the year and everything balances out.
To observers both here and abroad, the message should be that the American political system remains as impacted and impotent as ever. Here lies a once in a generation opportunity for our economic policy to be set back towards a time where again the federal budget could be balanced. And yet we can't get it done. Especially on the Republican side, lawmakers can't get their heads out of their butts long enough to forget about "no tax" pledges where such things have obviously become impractical. So the solution is to hold back any and all progress.
So apparently the solution for the No Tax Numbskulls is to actually have the country go off the cliff, so that politically, when Congress reconvenes in January (and a deal is before the Congress), these particular Congresspeople can be seen as voting for tax cuts, rather than voting to increase taxes. In other words, it's about perceptions. And heaven forbid that the Tea Party People toss out the No Tax Numbskulls for reneging on their promise.
It all makes my head hurt. It's a lot of semantics and gamesmanship and saving face. It is so not about showing leadership to the world and giving the American people faith that its political leaders can work together to solve the big problems facing society.
And next, we're going to solve problems related to handguns? Good luck with that.